Before you try any natural product or compound, it’s important to know how it’ll affect your body. This seems particularly true for Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid found in both hemp and cannabis plants.
That’s because when anyone mentions cannabis or hemp, most of us think of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychotropic cannabinoid also found in hemp and cannabis.
But CBD interacts with your body differently than THC. For one, it’s not psychotropic—it won’t alter your consciousness—you can drive, work, or relax on CBD with no concerns of impairment.
Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer to how long CBD stays in your body; the science is still out.
But what we can do is direct you towards some general ways of thinking about CBD, how it travels through your bloodstream and digestive system, and when, approximately, you can expect the compound to leave your body.
In this thorough explainer, I’ll briefly fill you in on CBD and where the latest research is headed. Then we’ll look at the steps your body goes through as it processes CBD, from the primary effects after ingestion, through to the end of the line, the point where no test can detect CBD in your blood, urine, or saliva.
We’re Still Learning About CBD
Although CBD has seemingly emerged into popular culture overnight, we’ve known about it just as long as we’ve known about THC. In fact, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam isolated CBD before THC. But THC affected our minds and bodies in more pronounced ways than CBD, and researchers flocked to the showoff compound.
Today, along with the recent surge of consumer products, scientists are starting to investigate the effects of CBD. So far, one CBD-based drug, Epidioldex, has been approved by the FDA. The drug aids those with Dravet syndrome, a debilitating form of infant epilepsy.
CBD is one of the 142 phytocannabinoids found within all cannabis plants including legal, industrial hemp. We know the body produces at least one native cannabinoid, named anandamide, and it interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies.
We’ve surmised a lot of our information on CBD’s metabolic rate on the decades of salient THC research. But that doesn’t mean there are no CBD-specific studies. Most of the information regarding how CBD’s breaks down in your body originates from two specific studies.
In the first study, published in 1991 in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, the plasma levels of 14 Huntington’s patients were recorded over six weeks after oral doses of CBD.
The second study is a review of research on CBD metabolites published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2016. This one thoroughly explains the partial knowledge we have of CBD’s metabolite half-life rates.
Your Dose of Choice Matters
When you ingest CBD, it enters your bloodstream and interacts with your endocannabinoid system—an elaborate series of receptors that control the immune system, pain response, sleep cycles and much more. But only a fraction of your CBD dose makes it that far.
This is one of the biggest points to remember: Your favorite way to consume CBD affects how much CBD reaches your bloodstream, known as the bioavailability of your dose.
Every method of ingestion has a unique bioavailability. Edibles, because of the first pass effect, can have as little as 4% availability and upwards of 15%. Sublingual oral doses of CBD tinctures sit around 15% to 20%. Vaping has the highest bioavailability, anywhere from 30% to 50%.
Remember, these are rough estimates—many factors that can alter bioavailability. For example, if you eat a few Raspberry gummies directly after a dish of spaghetti, you’ll experience a lower bioavailability than if you ate the same edible on an empty stomach.
And for those of you that love our Blue Hawaiian vape juice, know that your lung capacity and overall health of your lungs can drastically change the amount of CBD that reaches your bloodstream.
How Long Does It Take CBD to Work?
The answer to this question depends on your CBD product of choice. Below, I’ve broken down the primary effect by product type. Remember, we’re dealing with ballpark numbers.
How CBD affects you could differ from our estimations. But if you feel no effects long after ingesting CBD, consider upping your dose. You may not have taken enough!
CBD Oil Tincture: Taking a sublingual dose of oil, that is, a dropper of CBD oil under your tongue, will kick in within ten minutes and last anywhere from one to three hours.
CBD Vape: You’ll feel a breath-full of sweet, CBD-infused vape juice the fastest out of all methods—almost instantly. The speedy onset has a drawback; the soothing effects won’t last long, about an hour.
CBD Edible: Because edibles must pass through your gut wall and liver, they not only have low bioavailability but a slow delivery rate, too. You’ll be waiting at least an hour until you feel anything.
The upside? CBD edibles can last three to four hours—the longest of all the methods, which makes them perfect for pain management.
CBD Topical: Your endocannabinoid system even has receptors in your skin and muscle tissue. But you have to wait for the CBD-enriched oils to soak in. This can take anywhere from five to ten minutes. Topical CBD products should last about two to three hours per dose.
How Long Until The Effect of CBD Wear Off?
As a rule, the quicker CBD’s onset, the faster CBD will leave your body. That’s because one factor of CBD’s half-life, or the time it takes for CBD metabolites to break down by half, is how you consume it.
The thing is, we don’t know the exact half-life of CBD as we do for THC. But the two research papers I mentioned earlier arrive at similar half-life values.
For now, we have to use their preliminary findings for our rough estimates. Upon oral ingestion of CBD, the half-life of CBD detected via a blood test was 20 to 30 hours—roughly one day.
With this information and some quick math, we can predict that CBD lasts around 5-7 days before it’s no longer detectable in the body either through urine or blood tests.
Also, keep in mind that all cannabinoids are fat-soluble. Meaning, they dissolve into fats and lipids. We know this because of the bounty of research on THC.
So, using CBD every day can build up CBD in your fat cells. And if you take CBD routinely for, say, a month, it will probably take much longer to disappear from your system—anywhere from two weeks to a month.
What factors effect CBD processing?
- Metabolism: Everyone metabolizes CBD differently; there’s no universal formula that can calculate our unique biomes.
- Physical Activity: Active users, or anyone who burns lots of calories every day, may break down CBD faster than inactive users, such as those with desk jobs or sedentary lifestyles.
- BMI: A high Body Mass Index (BMI), especially an index with an abundance of fat cells, can cause you to store more CBD than someone with less fat cells.
- Medication: It’s possible prescription medicines, especially strong metabolic medications, could affect how you feel CBD and its overall half-life, too.
Drugs Tests and CBD
If you’re worried about failing a drug test, know that most of them don’t check for CBD. That’s because, so long as it’s derived from industrial hemp, it’s a legal cannabinoid. The news reports of people failing drug tests after taking CBD have tested positive for THC.
Some CBD products, known as broad- or full-spectrum, can legally contain upwards of .3% THC. If someone buys a full-spectrum CBD tincture, for example, and the company doesn’t test their product routinely, it could have more than .3% THC. It may not seem like much, but in high enough doses, small amounts of THC add up into detectable amounts.
In case you were wondering, Balance CBD products are THC-free; we only use a lab-tested CBD isolate. We remove all terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC, before adding it our tinctures, vapes, and edibles.
With our products, a drug test would have to test for CBD specifically, and no screening process that uses the SAMSHA guidelines, the most common list of drugs enforced by US laws, checks for CBD.
To be safe, ask your employer what compounds their particular test will flag—it’s well within your rights and can save you a lot of unnecessary stress!
Enjoy the CBD Ride!
No matter how you dose your daily CBD, just remember to relax and enjoy the ride as it gently stimulates your endocannabinoid system, that vast network of receptors working to maintain your body and balance your mind.
While you’re here, check out our growing list of products, all of which include pure, hemp-based CBD.
And if you’re interested in the latest info and news in the CBD industry, bookmark our blog. We update our customers on the latest research and trends every week, as well as answer the most popular questions asked by our growing CBD community.